The Department 3 Blog
Data Optimization: Why 1:1 Engagement Depends On It
June 10 2018, Michael Concannon
“Treat every customer as a unique individual.” It’s the Golden Rule of modern marketing. As personalization sweeps over every industry, from television to hotel rooms to Heinz Ketchup and Pop-Tart packaging, accurate direct marketing data is more central to your campaign success than ever before.
Personalization and effective 1:1 engagement rely entirely on clean, accurate data. Without an optimized, updated database, your personalization efforts might fall flat, or not hit your objectives. Without quality data, treating each customer as an individual becomes more like the Holy Grail: mythical and impossible to obtain.
But getting personalization right offers tremendous upside. Especially because a direct marketing channel like direct mail has special advantages. According to the USPS, 69% of people feel mail is more personal than the web. Research agency Millward Brown found that physical media creates a “deeper footprint” in the brain than digital media. The fact they can see, touch, and handle a piece of direct mail means people are more open to engaging with it.
Unless you’ve screwed up their name, that is, or sent a 22-year-old a Seniors Discount offer.
Chasing the grail
If one of a target’s unique personal details is blatantly wrong, or even just slightly off, then you’re in trouble. Some of the most common offenders? Misspelled first and last names, names with incorrect capitalization, botched nicknames, or names or titles that don’t reflect a change in life stage (like failing to change a female target’s last name after a divorce).
Inaccuracies like this lead chip away at not just immediate response rates, but brand perception. To your audience, it demonstrates your indifference. So if a prerequisite for 1:1 engagement is accurate contact data, optimizing your database has to be Job One.
But imperfect personalization isn’t always about catching these obvious mistakes. Often, failure owes to key data points that are missing. Your existing customer or leads data probably already includes a variety of simple demographics (i.e. age, location, income, household size) or firmographics (company size, company revenue, an individual’s job title) that could be used to forge a meaningful connection with a customer.
Bring your data together
In larger organizations, data may be siloed and segregated. A sales database may have data on a customer that would be a perfect complement to what your digital marketing d-base knows about their browsing behaviors. But unless it’s collated and integrated, all this Balkanized data just adds up to a missed opportunity.
What if you’re missing even basic segmentation and personalization data? Good luck! It’s a rule of thumb today that general consumers and B2B buyers both want and expect personalization. It’s why a Constellation Research study claimed a lack of content relevancy in an average marketing campaign generates an 83% lower response rate.
But if your CMO or agency client is happy with those kinds of returns, why worry?
Well, probably because they’re not happy. They’re likely more interested in getting results like this: According to the Data & Marketing Association, targeting customers on a 1:1 level increases response rates up to 50% or more.
People change…so should your data
Personalization isn’t static, either. As the world moves faster and faster, even clean direct marketing data gets outdated more quickly than the latest Internet meme.
If it doesn’t reflect a target’s new job, a lifestyle shift, or other changes, your campaign won’t resonate. So are you keeping your Direct Marketing data current?
Since an average American moves more than 11 times in their lifetime, according to the Census Bureau, cleansing and updating lists is vital. Because they may turn over as much as 25% annually.
So when it comes to first finding your audience, then proving and re-proving your relevance to them? It’s a never-ending job, and there’s no such thing as optimizing your data just once.
There’s not two of me!
Data duplication can be a toxic faux pas, too. Experts estimate that almost 10% of all data entries are duplicates, causing various levels of irritation for the recipient, but also doubling your printing and lettershop costs for each duplication.
De-duping your database can cure this ill, as a proper merge/purge can eliminate duplicates. Harder to catch may be the tiny mistakes that conceal dupes. For instance, if the email address on one of two duplicate contacts is slightly misspelled and you’re using email de-duping, the duplicate won’t be eliminated.
Here’s where calling on the services of a best-in-class data optimization platform can make all the difference, as it will filter out these kinds of errors and more.
Perfect personalization, perfects data optimization
Direct marketing success isn’t all about direct marketing data, of course. There’s artistry and craft involved, and production, logistics, fulfillment and more.
It begins, though, with having a fine-tuned understanding of who it is you’re trying to engage, and that can only come at scale by assembling and optimizing razor-sharp data about them.
Another driver? It’s incredibly urgent for direct marketers to perfect personalization. Why? Because the new buzz is about taking it a step further, into the realm of hyper-personalization.
In a few short years the most agile and visionary direct marketers will have finally wrapped their hands around that Grail we mentioned, and begun leveraging 1:1 engagement in imaginative new ways. So staying competitive tomorrow means embracing direct marketing data optimization today.
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